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Thread: If an ancient roman were transported to modern ame

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    If an ancient wealthy Roman from the height of the Roman Empire were transported to modern America, what "modern" advances do you think would not surprise him? What would surprise him?

    I think an ancient Roman might be surprised at how many things seem, on the surface, unchanged in 2000 years. We have learned to construct things faster and cheaper, but not better. Ancient Roman concrete has lasted 2000 years; modern concrete has a tenth of that expected lifespan.

    A fair number of "modern" conveniences existed back then, but were only available to the very rich, and were very labor-intensive. For example, running hot and cold water would not surprise him, but that it is ubitquitous would. That the modern world exists completely without slave labor would probably surprise him.

    He would also possibly be surprised how so much of modern architechture is evocative of ancient roman styles, and how so many words are based in latin, and how many legal concepts have come to us virtually unchanged since the days of Rome.

    Our hypothetical ancient Roman would probably be a good deal less surprised at the modern world than a european of the 12th century would be.

    Yes, I spent much of last week's TV watching time watching the History Channel and all the documentaries about ancient Rome.
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    Capslock's Avatar
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    I think he'd be freaked out by the extent to which electricity dominates our lives. Lighbulbs, TVs, Computers, clocks, it really has changed our world in obvious ways. That and cars.

    And I think he'd be amused by blimps, which are inherently amusing.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    I think he would be in awe at the technological advancements that have taken place. But give him or her a couple hours (and some basic instruction) on a computer game and he/she would adapt rather nicely.

    This reminds me of an old short-lived 60's sitcom about a married couple of "cavemen" who get stuck in 20th century America. I still remember their 20th century guardian type people teaching them how to sign their name.


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    endparenthesis's Avatar
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    Roman: "... so, he ate extremely unhealthy food for years, got morbidly obese, and then sued the people who sold the food to him?"
    Me: "Yes."
    Roman: "And he knew how unhealthy it was from the start?"
    Me: "Yep."
    Roman: "But they didn't force him to eat it somehow?"
    Me: "Nope."
    Roman: "And he won this case and received an absurd amount of money?"
    Me: "Uh huh."
    Roman: "And this kind of thing happens all the time?"
    Me: "Pretty much."
    Roman: "I see... *yawns and checks sundial wristwatch* well, look at the time... I'm getting pretty tired here... I think I'll just be heading on back to the past now..."

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    swords's Avatar
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    It'd be hard getting him to believe we aren't allowed to beat, torture and murder people (unless he was in the army or police), he'd have to adjust.

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    drosera guy
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    He would love the gun nuts and NRA...

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    scottychaos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]That the modern world exists completely without slave labor would probably surprise him.
    slavery is far from extinct.
    we just hear much about it.
    but its out there.

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    We've all heard the term "wage slave". The modern "wage slave" aka low-middle-class worker is in about the same boat in terms of relative access to commodities, and relative social mobility, as the typical Roman slave was. Remember I said relative; we typical lower-class folks have things that the rich roman had, but we can't access the type of stuff the rich capitalist of today has. The roman would see that most immediately.

    No, most modern conveniences wouldn't shock, but the ubiquity would. TV's tech would surprise him, but I doubt the programming would; bread and circuses then, McD's and reality programming now, it comes to the same thing thereabouts...

    Modern English has more in common with ancient germanic than Latin. The "romance" languages of Europe are Latin derivatives. English is "the child of a Norman soldier trying to pick up a Saxon barmaid" as I've heard it laughingly called.

    I think computers would be the one thing that amazes the roman most of all. Its the one thing I can think of (off the top of my head) that they didn't really have a concept of back then. Even space travel was imagined in fiction of the day, although they really didn't know what was up there.

    The typical US person's wastefulness wouldn't shock him at all. Our sheer arrogance and expansionalist attitudes are right at home with the typical roman high-lifestyle. We are a nation of romanized gentry.

    But maybe I'm just a cynic with a degree in Classical Roman Archaeology...

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